Almost every post on this site provides tips and tricks to grow your fanbase, but one thing I haven’t yet addressed is the fact that not all fans are created equal. Specifically, I believe that all of your fans can fall into one of four different categories, and that those categories form a pyramid of sorts with the most desirable type of fan at the top of the pyramid.
As much as your goal should be to attract new fans, it should also be to convert your existing fans from whatever level they’re at now to the next level of the pyramid.
Here’s a break down each of these four types of fans and some suggestions about how you can get your fans moving up the pyramid. We’ll start with what is probably the majority of your fanbase and the bottom of the pyramid…
Thanks to social media, the word “fan” has taken on a different meaning than it used to. Is everybody that follows you on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or Tumblr technically a “fan?” Well, they at least took a moment to bother following you so that indicates that they are a fan of you or your work on at least some level.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of people following you on these social networks probably aren’t really paying any attention to what you’re doing. This is the group of fans that I call Ignorers – they’ve got some kind of a connection with you and they took a voluntary action to follow you in some form, but you’re not really connecting with them and they’re kind of a fan in name only.
This could also apply to people who may have paid to go to a comedy club and see you, but that was more of a coincidence that you happened to be performing there. It also fits people who visited your blog because they found a link to it from someplace else, but they’re not really paying much attention to you beyond that.
The concept of having Ignorers as fans may seem very negative, but it’s actually a good thing. Ignorers are entry-level fans, each Ignorer that you have presents an opportunity to move them up the fan ladder.
How To Move Ignorers Up The Fan Pyramid:
The key to converting Ignorers is to make sure that they’re seeing your content. Try to come up with ways to encourage people to engage with what you’re producing and figure out ways to connect with them so that they won’t miss what you’re doing. For example, try to get an Ignorer who’s only following you on Twitter and usually misses your posts to subscribe to your email list where they’ll be more likely to see what you want them to see.
The first step in making somebody a more passionate fan is to make sure they’re exposed to what you create. This is the best way to move them to the next level of the Fan Pyramid which is…
The Watchers are your fans who have built a more solid connection to you and they are now at least watching or reading all of the things that you create. You’ve moved them beyond the Ignorer stage, and you’ve now got their attention which is a great asset.
However, while Watchers are generally paying attention to what you’re up to, they’re still relatively passive. They’re not telling other people about your stuff, and they’re probably not spending money on anything you’re trying to sell. They view you as a fun or interesting diversion from their day – worth a few minutes of their time, but not necessarily worth anything beyond that.
How To Move Watchers Up The Fan Pyramid:
Once you’ve got somebody regularly watching your stuff, the next important step is to get them to engage with it. Come up with creative ways to encourage them to share your content, comment on it, or engage with you in some way. You want to show them that you appreciate them paying attention to you, and figure out ways to invite them to become a bigger part of your world. If you can succeed at doing that, they will move up the Fan Pyramid and become one of…
When a fan takes the leap from being somebody who just watches your content to actually sharing it, that’s a huge coup for you. This is because you’ve now converted a fan into an advocate who you can count on to help spread the word about you and your work.
Sharers are the kind of people that will post your latest video on their Facebook wall for their friends to see, they’ll invite their friends to come with them to see your live show, and they’ll be emotionally vested in your success because they feel like they’re having a part in making it happen.
Even though Sharers are not at the top of the Fan Pyramid, in some ways they are the most important types of fans you can acquire. The more you have, the more your fanbase will grow.
How To Move Sharers Up The Fan Pyramid:
When dealing with fans who are Sharers, you no longer have to convince them to connect with what you’re creating – they’re already sold. The challenge becomes how to monetize somebody that digs what you do, and that’s what you should concentrate on with this group.
Specifically, you should pay attention to what kinds of things they’re sharing and even consider asking them what kind of stuff they would value. You want to create different products with different price points so that you can monetize on some level anybody that likes you enough to be a Sharer regardless of their financial situation.
Additionally, be sure to create products and services that will appeal to your Sharers – don’t just try to sell them a T-shirt because it’s easy if that’s not what they want. Check out my previous post about the value of creating experiences to see how some people are monetizing Sharers with unique ideas. If you succeed, you’ll turn your Sharers into…
The peak of the fan pyramid, the Buyers are your most financially valuable fans. They are the ones that will purchase your album, pay for your podcast, donate to your web series, buy tickets to your shows, and more. Their commitment to you is what will allow you to turn your passion into a career and they should obviously be appreciated as such.
Also, it should be noted that nobody becomes a Buyer without previously going through the other stages of the Fan Pyramid. A lot of times, you may create an album or plan a tour and then wonder why nobody’s buying it? Well, too often comedians think they can skip the other steps and just find a bunch of Buyers when they’ve got something to sell – it doesn’t work like that.
How To Keep Buyers As Buyers:
Another mistake I see too often is that once a comedian manages to turn somebody into a Buyer, they think their work is done. It’s quite the opposite. You should spend as much time and effort – if not more – trying to satisfy people who are already buying from you as you do trying to find new people to buy from you.
For example, if somebody bought your last album and you’ve got a new one coming out – maybe you should give it to them for free as a thanks for supporting you earlier in your career? If somebody bought tickets and brought a bunch of their co-workers to your show because they want to spread the word about you, maybe you should buy them a round of drinks?
There’s no rules in any of this, but that’s a great advantage if you think about it that way. I can’t say this any better than Seth Godin does, so I’ll close by just sharing a recent post from his site:
Here’s what most businesses do with their best customers: They take the money.
The biggest fan of that Broadway show, the one who comes a lot and sits up front? She’s paying three times what the person just three rows back paid.
That loyal Verizon customer, the one who hasn’t traded in his phone and has a contract for six years running? He’s generating far more profit than the guy who switches every time a contract expires and a better offer comes along.
Or consider the loyal customer of a local business. The business chooses to offer new customers a coupon for half off—but makes him pay full price…
If you define “best customer” as the customer who pays you the most, then I guess it’s not surprising that the reflex instinct is to charge them more. After all, they’re happy to pay.
But what if you define “best customer” as the person who brings you new customers through frequent referrals, and who sticks with you through thick and thin? That customer, I think, is worth far more than what she might pay you in any one transaction. In fact, if you think of that customer as your best marketer instead, it might change everything.
Yeah, Seth’s a pretty smart guy.
For a better understanding of fans, check out this post about The 1,000 True Fans Theory.